Books for Cooks

The volumes to give this holiday season

2014's Best Cookbooks
2014's Best CookbooksIngalls Photography
Prune
Prune Cookbook
by_Gabrielle Hamilton_
You know when you read a book that's so good, you have to put it down every few pages to de-stimulate? That's Prune. Chicken braised in hard cider, shad roe with bacon and paprika butter—oh, what recipes! Written in an intimate, forthright style, as though readers were staffers at Hamilton's renowned Manhattan restaurant, it's a trip through the mind of a chef who has a deep understanding of the pleasures of rusticity. I read the chapter "Garbage" with relish, soaking up tips for turning sardine bones and the like into deliciousness. —Betsy Andrews Available from Random House; $45
Amazon
Thailand: The Cookbook
Thailand: The Cookbook
by Jean-Pierre Gabriel
Jean-Pierre Gabriel's tome on Thai cooking doesn't have headnotes, menu pairings, or buying guides. But what it lacks in introductory text, it makes up for in its sheer volume of recipes—500, to be exact. The book includes many old favorites, such as spicy stir-fried pork with basil, but the most intriguing recipes are those that go beyond the familiar, like green curry with silkworm pupae and stir-fried sea bass with cardamom shoots, demonstrating the stunning breadth of Thai cuisine. —Mari Uyehara Available from Phaidon Press; $50
Amazon
The Cuban Table
The Cuban Table Cookbook
by Ana Sofia Pelaez
For this intimate, inviting cookbook, Cuban-American writer Ana Sofía Peláez and photographer Ellen Silverman visited home kitchens all over Cuba, surfacing a collection of vibrant recipes that showcases the remarkable confluence of flavors on the island: Afro-Cuban quimbombó, a stew of sour orange–marinated shredded chicken, okra, and tomato; flaky Spanish pastelitos, puff pastry turnovers with a sweet cheese and guava filling; and dishes like pescado frito con mariquitas, a whole fried fish lavished in a garlic-chile marinade served atop a bed of crispy deep-fried green plantain strips. Packed with gorgeous photographs and history, the book is a vivid and exciting portrait of the Cuban table today. —Karen Shimizu
Amazon
How to Eataly: A Guide to Buying, Cooking and Eating Italian Food
How to Eataly: A Guide to Buying, Cooking and Eating Italian Food
by Oscar Farinetti
This handsome compendium from the founder of Eataly stresses the company's guiding philosophy: "Live well, eat well." The oversized, 300-page book includes tips about buying the best ingredients, techniques for using foods "the Italian way," and a hundred classic recipes—such as ribollita, pasta alla Norma, branzino with tomatoes and olives, and tiramisù—that showcase the simple, ingredient-focused cooking that exemplifies everything we love about Italian cuisine. —Camille Rankin Available from Rizzoli; $35
Amazon
Bar Tartine
Bar Tartine
by Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns
The team behind San Francisco's lauded Bar Tartine have produced a textbook-like volume that highlights the dishes at the heart of their success—a success that's due to a curiosity for new flavors, respect for tradition, and embracing a collaborative spirit in the kitchen. The book is divided into two sections: The first devotes more than a hundred pages to the art of building the homemade larder, teaching the reader how to make everything from green garlic powder and dehydrated tomatoes to kefir buttermilk and beet kvass. The second part promotes stunning dishes that utilize the pantry, such as a Slovakian Christmas classic, brick-red sauerkraut soup; hearty pork knuckle and sausage-stuffed vegetables; and scrumptious hazelnut butter and strawberry jam cookies. It's a book that honors the past while still looking forward. —Kellie Evans Available from Chronicle Books; $40
Amazon
Relae: A Book of Ideas
Relae: A Book of Ideas
by Christian F. Puglisi
Christian Puglisi's debut cookbook, Relæ, invites the reader into the mind of one of the world's most influential contemporary chefs. Named after his Michelin-starred restaurant, located in Copenhagen, Denmark, Relæ is indeed "a book of ideas," the ideas that define Puglisi's philosophy as a chef and restaurant owner. Puglisi delves into everything from locavorism and the making of the perfect loaf of bread to dissecting the various ingredients, textures, and cooking methods that are the basis for the recipes that follow. Though he provides meticulous instructions for dishes like oysters, cabbage, and capers and wild duck, elderberries, and white onions, he encourages his reader to use those recipes—and the ideas that precede them—as inspiration, just as he would himself. —Laura Loesch-Quintin Available from Ten Speed Press; $50
Amazon
Brooks Headley's Fancy Desserts
Brooks Headley's Fancy Desserts
by Brooks Headley
I've been a fan of Brooks Headley, the much-lauded pastry chef of Manhattan's Del Posto, for a while—not just for his inventive desserts, but for his overall cooking philosophy, in which he rejects chef-y fanfare in favor of a quiet, egoless, collaborative approach to making food. So it is with his cookbook, Brooks Headley's Fancy Desserts, which Headley fills with not just his own writing and recipes, but essays from friends and colleagues, giving them the floor when he thinks someone else may do a better job of explaining things than he can. I quickly found myself engrossed in the commentary explaining his process and inspiration; the anecdotes from his days as a punk drummer and his transition to pastry; and the frequent worshipful descriptions of greenmarket fruits. The recipes are restaurant-y, to be sure—you'll have to hunt down ingredients to make many of them—but true to Headley's style, they're all presented with a DIY punk aesthetic, making you feel totally empowered to craft a makeshift smoker and get down to the business of producing smoked applesauce in your home kitchen. I'd bet that whether you're in it for the recipes, the hilarious stories about road tripping with a punk band, or an in-depth exploration of "the historic role of sugar in empire building," you'll find it impossible not to devour the book, too. —Laura Sant
Amazon
The Bar Book
The Bar Book
by Jeffrey Morgenthaler
Most bar books are filled exclusively with cocktail recipes. Not so Jeffrey Morgenthaler's first title, The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique. Instead, Morgenthaler, bar manager at Portland, Oregon's renowned bar Clyde Common, divulges both the recipes and techniques that make up his award-winning craft cocktail program. Fresh-made mixers, including tonic water, raspberry syrup, and grenadine, form the building blocks of his bar and the book, followed by a focus on techniques (shaking, muddling, swizzling) and artisanal garnishes. The book is geared toward the professional but is engaging for enthusiasts who wish to elevate their home game with craft touches like homemade ginger beer to make a memorable Dark 'n Stormy. —Erica Duecy Available from Chronicle Books; $30
Amazon
New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian
New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian
by Greg and Lucy Malouf
Chef Greg and writer Lucy Malouf have penned a cookbook full of rich Middle Eastern vegetarian recipes that span the region, from Egyptian breakfast beans with feta and green chile relish to a Persian herb salad with fresh figs and labneh. Framed by lush photographs, the recipes celebrate the diversity of the Levant and the spirit of sharing that is so prevalent in Middle Eastern cooking and entertaining. Recipes such as braised artichokes, preserved lemons, and fingerling potatoes with basil crème fraîche and blackberry-sour cream crumble cake are inspired and inspiring, leaving me planning my next dinner party before I even close the book. —Farideh Sadeghin Available from Hardie Grant Books; $45
Amazon
A Kitchen in France
A Kitchen in France
by Mimi Thorisson
Mimi Thorisson brings her blog Manger, written from a French farmhouse kitchen in the Médoc's countryside, to print. The pages are filled with her husband Oddur's stunning photography, providing a glimpse of their family's picturesque life; the recipes focus on local farm ingredients to create simple yet delicious dishes that highlight the best of France's four seasons. Some favorites include Thorisson's most frequently asked-for recipe, roast chicken with crème fraîche and herbs; coquille St. Jacques with braised endive; and her beautiful meringue garden cake with edible flowers that sparked the beginning of her blog. —Michelle Heimerman Available from Clarkson Potter; $40
Amazon
Ladurée Macarons
Ladurée Macarons
Vincent Lemains
As the seasons change, fashion houses design and unveil new couture. The same can be said of Maison Ladurée, who to date, has produced over 130 distinct and mouth-watering macaron variations. To visit one of their shops is to step into a wonderland of scents, colors, and flavors. Between visits, we can live in the pages of the Ladurée Macarons cookbook, a pillowy-covered book with glistening pink-edged pages that offers recipes, tea pairings, and marks the date each recipe premiered. The gorgeous photography proves that their macarons are beautiful from every angle. —Kellie Evans Available from Hachette Livre; $40
Amazon
SAVEUR: The New Classics
SAVEUR: The New Classics
And, of course, there's our compendium of over 1,000 classic recipes from the archives of SAVEUR—we're pretty proud of it. Buy SAVEUR: The New Classics »Saveur

[See the 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for more gift ideas »]/tags/gift-guide)